Jay Ratliff chats with The Scores Report

Defensive lineman Jay Ratliff came into the NFL as a seventh round draft choice of the Dallas Cowboys in 2005 and all he’s done since then is become a two-time Pro Bowl selection in each of the last two seasons. He was also a first-team All-Pro selection in 2009 after racking up 40 tackles, six sacks and two forced fumbles.

We recently got the opportunity to chat with Jay about the Cowboys’ draft, how the ‘Boys can build off the success they had last season and what his thoughts were on the Donovan McNabb trade.

After you check out the interview, be sure to visit Jay’s official website, JAYRAT.com, for the chance to win a trip to see the Cowboys play in 2010. Two lucky winners will have the opportunity to see the ‘Boys take on the Titans at Cowboys Stadium, or the Giants at the new Meadowlands Stadium. The package will include airfare, hotel room, tickets to the game, as well as an opportunity to meet Jay before the game at the live airing of the DallasCowboys.com Radio Show.

The Scores Report: Hi, this is Anthony.

Jay Ratliff: Hey, this is Jay Ratliff.

TSR: Hey Jay, how you doing?

JR: Good, how about yourself?

TSR: Good, real good. Did you get a chance to watch the draft this past weekend?

JR: I only watched the first round to see who we took and that was it.

TSR: How did you feel about the selection of Dez Bryant?

JR: I was surprised by that, but I think he’ll be a good addition to the team and provide an extra spark for the offense, if you will. It should be interesting.

TSR: Are you surprised that the ‘Boys didn’t go with a defensive player?

JR: Not really. Obviously they felt comfortable with what we have on the defensive side of the ball and decided to go in the direction they did.

TSR: You were a seventh round pick that has gone on to be a very productive player in the NFL, which includes two Pro Bowl appearances. But things don’t always work out that way for late round picks, so what would be your advice for a player that was selected in the seventh round – or someone that wasn’t drafted at all? How do they make an impact right away?

JR: I would tell them the same thing that was told to me and that is: It’s not where you start, it’s where you end up. Use it as motivation to show other people why they should have picked you and go from there. I took that and that’s what I’m trying to do. I still think about that to this day.

TSR: Why do rookies tend to struggle with the defensive line position when they first come into the league?

JR: I don’t know if I would say that rookies tend to struggle with the defensive line. The thing is, if you have a veteran O-line that works well together, or if you have an O-lineman that has been in the game for a while and they know all the tricks of the trade, someone like Kevin Mawae, he’s going to dominate a rookie. The only way you can really learn and get better is through experience and reps. That’s why rookies may struggle, because they don’t get opportunities right away.

TSR: I know you’re a competitive guy and someone who likes to challenge himself against any and all offensive linemen, but what O-lineman is the best in the league? Who gives the best challenge?

JR: Man, there are a lot of good ones in the NFL so it’s hard to point out just one. You can look at almost every team and find a good one. I know we have two of them on our team in Andre Gurode and Leonard Davis. Those are two guys that are great players and I know there are more great offensive linemen out there. It’s hard to pick out just one.

TSR: Tough question, I’m sure. Now, I know you had some minor surgeries recently on both of your elbows. Is everything healing up?

JR: Yeah, everything is healing up good but I’m just trying to get my strength back up. It still kind of hurts to press a little bit, but as far as my range of motion and everything goes, it’s great – it’s better than it’s been in years. So, I’m excited about that.

TSR: Are you going to be healthy enough to participate in all of the offseason workouts and camps?

JR: I’m not sure. I haven’t done a whole lot of football activities yet, so I don’t really know how healthy I’ll be for everything. We’ll just have to see.

TSR: You guys finally got the playoff monkey off your backs last year, so to speak. What’s the one thing that the Cowboys must do to get to the NFC Championship Game and then of course, the Super Bowl?

JR: There’s a very simple answer for that: We have to win games. We have to win every week and be in control of our own destiny. We don’t want to get in a situation where we’re hoping for other teams to lose or anything like that. We have everything we need to succeed and now it’s just a matter of getting it done. That’s all there is to it.

TSR: Do you have individual goals that you set for yourself or do you just let the season play itself out?

JR: Yeah, I do – for sure. But I never talk about them or place them ahead of the team’s goals. There is one goal that I set every year that I haven’t gotten yet and it’s not just to win the Super Bowl either. (Laughs) So, we’ll just see what happens.

TSR: (Laughs) Well, I won’t press you to share the goal. You guys seem to have all the pieces in place to make a deep run and now that Donovan McNabb is in Washington, the dynamics have changed a bit in the NFC East. Do you pay attention to other teams offeseasons and kind of measure them up to the Cowboys’?

JR: I feel like we have a chance every year and I’m not just saying that because I’m on the team. I really believe we have a chance and every year I’ve been on the team I’ve felt that way. All the changes that happen with other teams, with McNabb being in Washington now, I mean, those NFC East battles are always going to be tough no matter what. You know when you go into a NFC East game that you’re going to have to play four quarters. With that in mind, we just have to win games because nothing else really matters.

TSR: And what were you thoughts on the Donovan McNabb trade? Were you surprised that the Eagles dealt him, especially within in the division?

JR: I was, but we all know the business side of the game. I’m pretty sure that he’ll be a great addition to that team and provide great leadership. But that’s not to take anything away from Jason Campbell, who is also a really good friend of mine. We’ll just see what happens because he gives the Redskins a dangerous piece and something that we’ll certainly have to account for.

TSR: I’m sure there are a lot of fans and even some players that have always wondered what it’s like to play for the Dallas Cowboys. What is it like to not only play for the ‘Boys, but also Jerry Jones?

JR: It’s almost overwhelming at times. (Laughs) I mean, you talk to other teams and other players and their experience is nothing like this. Every where you go in the nation and even in the world…I’ve been out of the country and the first thing some people say is, “Go Cowboys!” So, you really have to have a good head on your shoulders and stay focused. I think the Jones’s really go all out to make this team accessible and make sure the fans can talk to us and you know, get to know us and get to see us. They also make sure that we’re comfortable and we all have what we need, so it’s the greatest organization to play for and it’s truly a blessing.

TSR: Do you enjoy playing for a defensive-minded coach like Wade Phillips?

JR: Oh, yeah. Wade is definitely a hands-on kind of coach that puts his trust in his players and trusts the guys around him. When you have a coach like that, you don’t want to betray his trust. He’s built a family atmosphere here; that’s the first thing he said when he came in. He didn’t want us to just be a team – he wanted us to be a family and that’s what he’s built. You got a glimpse of that last year and now we’re just looking to build off that.

TSR: Well Jay, I won’t keep you any longer. I wish you nothing but the best and I appreciate your sitting down to chat with us.

JR: All right, no problem.

TSR: Take care.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

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